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12
DigiCULT
The Curator of New Media at Jerusalem's Israel
Museum
4
, Susan Hazan, disagreed strongly. `There
is a lot of documentation on fanship,' she said, `people
who have started an online community because they
have watched a TV show.They will continue to re-
visit this online experience day in, day out and may
or may not meet at conventions.This is based on TV,
which I don't think is reality.' She asked how else a
`community' could be perceived.
The Moderator turned to a sociological definit-
ion: `Since Ferdinand Tönnies, there is distinction
be-tween Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft,
5
between
"society" and "community". Society tends to be
big and formal, community tends to be intimate
and closed.'
M
OBILE
T
ELEPHONY
C
OMMUNITIES
T
here were suggestions, too, that people who
spent much time in virtual communities lost
contact with the real world.This was false, Mr Nyíri
said.These were people who were not losing contact
with reality. And he thought that, for example, mobile
communication created communities, a fact he con-
sidered relevant to the heritage sector because of its
ability to handle images. In fact, he was surprised that
multimedia messaging (MMS) had not been as big a
success as the single media (SMS) forbear.
Ms Hazan considered that, on the contrary, MMS
was indeed very big but Bruce Royan, a visiting
professor in communications at Napier University,
6
argued it was rather a matter of `noise made by the
operators' making it just seem big.
Dr Seamus Ross, Director of Glasgow
University's Humanities Advanced Technology
and Information Institute (HATII),
7
questioned
Mr Nyíri's assertions on virtual community reality
checks. A recent article by American author Naomi
Wolf
8
suggested that virtual communities took over
lives of people and changed the nature of their
communication in the real world, he said, adding:
`I believe some people will participate in the virtual
world and become just like drug addicts because
they become totally immersed in it.'
Another moot point came from Isabelle Vinson,
editor in chief of UNESCO's Museum International
9
journal. She was not convinced that cultural heritage
yet had much to gain from mobile telecommuni-
cations technology, which was still largely the pro-
vince of wealthier countries only. She said: `There is
the question of language and the need to interpret,
to give meanings to cultural heritage when using the
Web.True, it is an economic question. But it is also
a question of languages and understanding what
cultural heritage is in education.' She wanted to
know, too, what the sector thought it could gain
by expanding into virtual communities.
And so they talked of the economics of open
archives initiatives, of the World Wide Web's `gift
economy', of reaction to the `commercialisation
of the publication', of the needs of the museum
community and the `digital divide'.
`I loathe the term "digital divide",' growled
Stockholm's Dr Karp. His most vivid memory from
helping museum communities `on the other side of
the digital divide' was their reaction to his help.
Personnel had chastised him for creating an Internet
resource suitable only for their limited needs.They
had, he said, scolded him with: `If you do that we
will never get access to the Internet'.
Dr Karp went on, fiercely: `If we, those on the
privileged side of all of this, are constantly talking
about the digital divide as something that needs to
be considered and the resources that we develop
need to recognise this, then we guarantee that the
people on the other side are going to remain there.
There is a paternalistic, colonialistic aspect baked
into the notion of the digital divide, which is why
I loathe the concept.'
Dr Ross asserted that the success of open archives
and `the e-print stuff ' were assured. It was less to do
with freedom of information and removal of middle-
4
Israel Museum, Jerusalem,
http://www.imj.org.il
5
Ferdinand Julius
Tönnies (1855-1936),
German sociologist, co-
founder German Society
for Sociology. His study,
Gemeinschaft und Gesell-
schaft, published 1887. See
Mathieu Deflem,
Routledge Encyclopedia
of Philosophy, ed. Edward
Craig, London: Routledge,
2001, http://www.cla.sc.
edu/socy/faculty/deflem/
zToennies.html
6
Napier University,
Edinburgh, http://www.
napier.ac.uk
7
HATII,
http://www.hatii.
arts.gla.ac.uk
8
Naomi Wolf, US
feminist writer, `The Porn
Myth: in the end, porn
doesn't whet men's
appetites, it turns them off
the real thing', New York
Magazine, October 20,
2003, http://www.
newyorkmetro.com/
nymetro/news/
trends/n_9437/
9
Museum International
journal, UNESCO,
http://www.ingenta.com/
journals/browse/bpl/muse
*
From: Memories From the
Islands: Chapman Lane, story
contributed to Moving
Here by Haringey
University of Third Age,
http://www.movinghere.
org.uk/stories/story58/
story58.htm
*
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